Raymond Felton will undoubtedly be playing under an intense spotlight this season. As the predecessor/replacement to glorified Jeremy Lin, Felton will have to recreate the same type of borderline All-Star play that he produced in his first stint in New York two years ago. A lot has changed since then – GMs, coaches, players – but nonetheless, Felton will be charged with running an offense in need of help while trying to keep two points-hungry superstars in Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony happy.
At the conclusion of preseason, fans have reason to be pleased with Felton. His first four games were solid, if unspectacular, passing the ball well enough, but his shot selection and field goal percentage left a bit to be desired. In the last two games of preseason, against Philadelphia and Brooklyn, Felton looked like the point guard the Knicks are going to need.
In his previous two games combined, Felton put up 38 points, shot 60% from beyond the arc, accrued 9 assists with just two turnovers. Are these reasonable numbers to expect? Perhaps. With Amar’e Stoudemire and J.R. Smith both absent, Felton’s scoring demeanor needs to be up. In the last two games Felton’s jumper was silk and he found success bouncing, dashing his way to the basket for layups and little tear-drop floaters. When the Knicks are healthy again (hopefully this will be the case), Felton still needs to be aggressive looking for his shot, but expect his assists (and likely his turnovers) to go back up as he’ll look to get teammates more involved.
A case could be made, however, that Felton has Pablo Prigioni breathing down his neck. The 35-year old Argentine rookie has displayed a tremendous knack for getting players involved in the pick-and-roll and getting open shots on the perimeter. In the second quarter of Wednesday night’s game, Prigioni reeled off three straight assists that quickly erased the Knicks’ seven point deficit. For the time being, though, Prigioni will come off the bench where he’s been undoubtedly the Knicks’ second most efficient point guard, better than Jason Kidd.
The starting job is Felton’s to lose, and at 28, he is one of the younger members of the Knicks, and will thus be relied upon to log a healthy dose of minutes over the season. The Knicks tried to address an issue at point guard this offseason, and coming into training camp it was a matter of concern whether the Knicks could get good production from the conductors of the offense. If preseason is any sort of reliable measure, Raymond Felton is erasing those concerns.